HYDERABAD: Amid all the odds against their ‘illegal immigrant’ status in India, a night school in the Rohingya camp at Balapur is standing as a symbol of hope for educating the children and adults. Most of them speak only their local language and thus are handicapped when it comes to finding a local job.
Lit with a single 100-watt bulb, the asbestos covered shed that the Rohingyas pay Rs 2,000 towards rent becomes the school during the evening that runs until 11 pm. Basics of Math and English are taught to 42 students, including 20 adults. The tutor, ‘Masterji’, unlike every other refugee, cannot make his living by working as a labourer as he sustained an injury in his leg.
“The Burmese army broke my leg. I am imparting a little education I know to the children and adults for a meagre salary I receive from the people themselves which is usually Rs 50 to Rs 100,” said the 35-year-old Shamsul Alam who came four months ago to Hyderabad.
Assisting the children is his primary task, besides teaching English spoken language to the adult that usually takes place late in the night. The Rohingya Muslim children get to learn basic primary education from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) school located at a walkable distance, but do not get any higher education either from the local government school or a private college as they don’t have an Aadhaar card. However, a marginal number of children with the support of UNHCR get education until sixth standard.
“I cannot study in any private college owing to my refugee status. I completed my eleventh standard from Burma with specialisation in Chemistry, there is no point in studying primary education again here,” said a gloomy 20-year-old refugee who refused to reveal his name fearing a FIR that could be registered against him. “I am just waiting for things to settle there (Myanmar) and once it is done, I will get back to studies,” he added.
Another refugee in the settlement said he pays Rs 200 to the Masterji as fees on a monthly basis for tutoring his grandson. “I pay Masterji Rs 200 every month for helping my grandson who studies at the UNHCR school. There would be around 30-40 students who come here on almost every evening to study,” he said. Continuing the discussion further, a nineteen-year-old added that the Burmese government deprived them of basic education.